Opinion

‘We got teachers the best and fairest pay deal we possibly could’

The education secretary writes about next year's pay deal, and his 'admiration' for teachers

The education secretary writes about next year's pay deal, and his 'admiration' for teachers

19 Jul 2022, 17:15

I know that teachers and school leaders are preparing for the summer break but before you head off for a well-earned rest and do your planning for the start of term, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to add my thanks and admiration for everything you’ve achieved in another challenging year.

Thanks to you, exams have taken place again for the first time in three years, with students now eagerly awaiting their results next month; thanks to you, we kept classrooms open to all pupils throughout the year, despite the challenges of Covid-19 over the winter – and now the heat over the summer; and thanks to you, children and young people are getting back on track following the disruption of the pandemic.

Although we have been through a period of upheaval in Westminster I want to assure you that in the Department for Education, we have remained focused on the job.

I am delighted to have Will Quince and Diana Barran in the department and also a team of talented and committed new ministers. We all have a job to do and we will be focusing 100% on that.

I want to pay tribute to my predecessor Nadhim Zahawi too.

‘Pay deal will support teachers with cost of living’

As I’m sure you’ll have been aware, there has been a lot of speculation about the annual pay award for teachers and leaders. It is coming at a time when everyone is feeling the effects of some huge economic pressures, most of which are outside our control.

He worked hard to achieve a pay deal that will support our workforce in the context of the rising cost of living, and recognises the way that you have stepped up so magnificently over the past couple of years.

Those pressures have framed the context for the decisions that have been taken for this year’s pay award and I wanted to let you know about the results as soon as I could.

In line with the proposals the government made to the STRB, and the recommendations they returned to us, new teachers will start on a salary of £28,000 from September, keeping us on track to deliver on our commitment of £30,000 starting salaries.

This means salaries for new teachers outside London will receive an 8.9 per cent pay increase in September.

There will also be other significant rises right across the board for those in the early stages of their careers. This will go a long way to support teachers at what can be a particularly challenging time for them.

I want, and we need teaching to be one of the most attractive and respected career options for our brightest graduates, on par with medicine, law and engineering.

This pay deal – coupled with the exceptional professional development opportunities that are now available for teachers – puts us firmly on a path to raising the profile of teaching even further.

Our proposals to the STRB also included a pay rise of 3 per cent in 2022/23 for more experienced teachers and leaders, typically those who have been in the profession five years or more.

However, as everyone knows the economic picture since then has changed beyond recognition.

‘5% rise for most teachers is responsible’

Because of that, I’m pleased to be able to accept the Review Body’s recommendation of a 5 per cent uplift in 2022/23.

It’s a pay award that recognises the incredible work of teachers and leaders over the past year. But just as importantly, it’s responsible in the wider economic context of rising inflation while still being manageable for schools.

That last point is the clincher. I know that like a lot of people, schools themselves will undoubtedly be feeling the pinch at the moment. 

This need to pitch the pay rise at a manageable level has been one of the key factors in our decision making. Thankfully we fought for and secured a generous school funding settlement at last year’s Spending Review.

The settlement is heavily frontloaded with £4 billion extra going into schools this year and a total increase of £7 billion over the three years up to 2024-25.

I also want to explain the decision we have taken to move from a two-year pay award to a one-year award.

The simple fact of the matter is that the world was a different place when we made those initial proposals. It’s clear now that it would not be right for us to take those decisions here and now, and instead the government will do so in line with the usual process, next year.

I know these are hard times for many and that pay is understandably an emotive issue. I haven’t been long in the job but I want you to know that I am determined to work as hard as I possibly can to champion your interests. It is a duty I take very seriously.

Our teachers are among the very best in the world and I do believe that we have managed to get the best and fairest deal for you we possibly could.

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